Physical exercises for hematology patients
Prepared by Dane Nemac
Why should I exercise?
Exercise, or better yet, physical exertion represents a stimulus for all major body systems, e.g. cardiovascular, muscular, immune, endocrine systems, etc. If the stimulus is regular, it initiates the need of your body systems to adapt which makes coping with the physical exertion easier in the long run. That means your body systems start working more efficiently.
These adaptations can also prevent disease. Hormones are exerted in a more coordinated fashion which can influence regulation of tumor cell growth. Myokines that are being secreted from your muscles when they are active also have the same impact. Exercise also increases your antioxidant capacity, immune function, DNA stability, etc.
Recent studies have shown that regular exercise has many positive effects on cancer survivors:
- Improved quality of life.
- Improved overall functioning.
- It is associated with reduced mortality.
- Less cancer-related fatigue.
- Reduced dependence on others.
- Increased muscle strength.
- Improved immune function.
- Improved cardiorespiratory system.
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Better body composition.
- Reduced number and severity of side-effects.
- Reduced hospitalisation duration.
- Exercise is safe both during and after most types of cancer treatments, including intensive treatments such as a bone marrow transplant.
- Patients with multiple or uncontrolled comorbidities (especially those with cardiovascular diseases) need to consider modifications to their exercise program in consultation with their physician.
- Patients undergoing Hematopoietic stem cell transplant should avoid overtraining as vigorous exercise can lead to unwanted exercise-induced immune suppression.
- Do not exercise if you are experiencing extreme fatigue, anemia, or ataxia.
- Patients with compromised immune function should avoid public gyms and public pools until their white blood cell counts return to safe levels. Patients who have completed a bone marrow transplant are usually advised to avoid such exposures for one year after the transplant.
- Patients undergoing radiation should avoid chlorine exposure to irradiated skin (e.g., from swimming pools).
- Patients with significant peripheral neuropathies or ataxia may have a reduced ability to use the affected limbs because of the weakness or loss of balance. It might be better to use a stationary bicycle than walking on a treadmill.
- Multiple myeloma patients should be treated as if they have osteoporosis. They should avoid contact sports and high-impact exercises.
Avoid inactivity; after surgery return to normal daily activities as quickly as possible. Continue normal daily activities and exercise as much as possible during and after nonsurgical treatments.
|Choose a type of physical activity that suits you best and which you are comfortable performing. There is a variety of activities you can choose from - walking, strength exercises, cycling, running, yard work, or gardening, swimming, hiking, etc. We recommend that you start with walking and strength exercises suitable for your fitness level (there are some examples below).||Physical activity should be demanding enough (increased heart rate and breathing). Patients are advised not to choose a workout which is too strenuous and would leave them extremely fatigued.|
|Exercise should last at least 20-30 minutes. But you can also divide it into shorter intervals (5-10 minutes) and take rests in between.||Try to be active on as many days as possible. It is recommended that you start with a moderate intensity exercise three times a week if you were completely inactive up till now and gradually progress in your exercise in both, frequency and intensity.||Physical activity should be demanding enough (increased heart rate and breathing). Patients are advised not to choose a workout which is too strenuous and would leave them extremely fatigued.|
Which exercises and how much is enough?
We divided exercise into three types that are most beneficial for you: aerobic training, strength training, and stretching. We conclude each exercise type with various examples of exercise schedules enabling you to better understand how to combine different types of exercise.
Below you have a scheme of fifteen progression levels for aerobic training. It’s not necessary to start at Level 1; choose a level which you can currently complete. Once again keep in mind that physical activity should be demanding enough (increased heart rate and breathing), but that patients are advised not to choose a workout that is too strenuous and would leave them extremely fatigued.
More precisely, your heart rate during exercise should range between 60-75 % of your maximum. If you have chosen a level that is too demanding, go one level down, and vice versa. That is considered as your starting point.
It is recommended that this type of exercise is performed at least three times a week. Then every 2-3 weeks try stepping up a level. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t keep up with the progression scheme. It’s not unusual for patients to go down a level for a few days or weeks due to the impact of the treatment. Keep in mind that moderate activity is always better than complete inactivity.
Level 1: walking 4 intervals of 5 minutes and resting 2 minutes in between
Level 2: walking 2 intervals of 10 minutes and resting 2 minutes in between
Level 3: walking 3 intervals of 10 minutes and resting 2 minutes in between
Level 4: walking 2 intervals of 15 minutes and one 2 minute rest in between
Level 5: walking continuously for 30 minutes
Level 6: walking 2 intervals of 20 minutes and a 2 minute rest in between
Level 7: walking continuously for 40-60 minutes
Level 8: briskly walking 3 intervals of 5 minutes and slowly walking 3 intervals of 5 minutes in between
Level 9: briskly walking 4 intervals of 5 minutes and slowly walking 4 intervals of 5 minutes in between
Level 10: briskly walking 4 intervals of 6 minutes and slowly walking 4 intervals of 4 minutes in between
Level 11: slowly running 3 intervals of 3 minutes and slowly walking 3 intervals of 7 minutes in between
Level 12: slowly running 4 intervals of 3 minutes and slowly walking 3 intervals of 6 minutes in between
Level 13: slowly running 3 intervals of 5 minutes and slowly walking 3 intervals of 5 minutes in between
Level 14: slowly running 4 intervals of 5 minutes and slowly walking 4 intervals of 3 in between
Level 15: running slowly continuously for 30-40 minutes
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